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Grammar Glossary for Spanish Students


cigarette pack in flames

Una cajetilla en llamas. (A cigarette pack in flames.)

Photo by Julie Vazquez; licensed via Creative Commons.

Definition: A word element that doesn't stand by itself but is attached to the end of a word to change its meaning.

In English, one common use of a suffix is to change the intensity of a word. Note, for example, the difference between "happy," "happier" and "happiest."

In Spanish, suffixes are frequently used to make something more endearing (un gato is a cat, but un gatito can be a cute cat or one dear to the speaker) or less so. It is also common in Spanish for one word to be used with a variety of suffixes to arrive at different meanings. For example, a caja is a box, but a cajetilla can be a cigarette pack and a cajón a drawer.

In both languages, suffixes are used in verb conjugation and in making words plural. They can also be used to change a word to a different part of speech. For example, adding the suffix "-ly" (the equivalent of -mente in Spanish) to the adjective "careful" (cuidada) makes it the adverb "carefully" (cuidadamente).

Also known as: Sufijo in Spanish.

Examples: The suffixes in the following words are in boldface: English: fastest, faster, jumped, kingdom, agreeable. Spanish: confortable, compraré, mantequilla, dentista.

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